Mary Surratt is the lone female charged as a co-conspirator in the assassination trial of Abraham Lincoln. As the whole nation turns against her, she is forced to rely on her reluctant lawyer to uncover the truth and save her life.
A brilliant plastic surgeon, haunted by past tragedies, creates a type of synthetic skin that withstands any kind of damage. His guinea pig: a mysterious and volatile woman who holds the key to his obsession.
This song is from Mesopotamia, uh... which means the land between the two rivers: the Tigris and the Eufrates, where the homo sapiens learned to write, to count and mark the stars, which anthropologists called the cradle of civilizations. In my dreams it might be once again.
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As I watched this superb Ken Loach film I kept on being reminded of "Get Carter". It wasn't the storyline but the imagery, the characters, the acting, and the reasons why this film works so well. And the central idea, as in "Get Carter", is about seeking justice for something that has happened to someone close.
From the moment we observe the bereaved Rachel, played with uncanny realism by Andrea Lowe, walk up and symbolically thump Mark Womack's Fergus we know we are in for a tough and uncompromising movie. And, as the story unfolds, we observe Womack's troubled character go through so many transitions whilst being so convincingly set on obtaining a certain justice for his best mate Frankie (John Bishop).
And although there are complexities in unravelling who did what and to whom the basic story is very simple, so simple it tells itself right to the very end. There is no room for sentimentality in this film, no clear divide between the good and the bad, we are simply left to imagine what we might do in the same circumstances. If there is a moral to the story it is the price of justice and the cost of being a survivor when things go wrong for someone very close to you.
The acting across the board is of the highest standard but I will single out Andrea Lowe and Mark Womack for performances which are stunningly realistic, beautifully honed and so powerfully delivered. These two just hold you in their grasp whenever they are on screen.
It is not a film for everyone and the subject matter is very controversial but it achieves what it sets out to do. It makes you think about what you might do in the same situation, how far you might go, how guilty you might feel, and it does so without ever sensationalising what is going on.
I recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who enjoys being immersed in intelligent films.
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